Wednesday, February 27


Many of my friends and acquaintances have been getting married lately. Nothing surprising as most of them are in their mid- or late-twenties, and it is their "age" to get married. What is surprising though is how many of those girls are changing their names. The most recent one being a friend from college who changed her entire name, first, middle and last! I am no bra-burning feminist, but I cannot seem to empathize or even understand why someone would do that today.

In earlier days the reasons were simple, it is tradition to change the bride's name and you do it. No questions asked. Then when you did ask questions there were other reasons to do it - you did not want to hurt anyone's feelings, family pressure, you hated your name and could not wait to change it, romantic notions of submerging your identity with the husband's, not really caring what your name was etc. However, in today's situation I see no reason or incentive for anyone to change their entire identity. If you really hate your name that much, I shall make an exception.

Most of the girls I know and am talking of are independent, educated and working, with established identities. With marriage nothing of that changes, you still (majority of the times) continue to work, have your opinions etc. To me changing my name is giving up my identity. When my sister got married I was worried if they would want to change her name. No matter how 'modern' in outlook they were, or how unique my sister's name is. I was concerned. But not once did I assume that my sister would voluntarily want to change her entire name. She took up her husband's name but her first name is still the same.

The whole point of this rant is trying to figure out what the incentive is to change their entire name. Changing the last name does not bother me as much, as I know there are too many social issues, pressures and tradition that exists even today. It is changing the first name that really bothers me. I have been thinking about it for long enough and I am at my wits end. Expect for hating your own name, and coercion I cannot think of anything. And in the cases that I know of coercion is definitely not the reason. And the former is also doubtful. So why? Why do girls chose to change their entire name after marriage even today?


Ashutosh said...

Isn't it interesting that even in a feminist country like the US, women have no problem changing their last name. Of course this could be seen simply as practical convenience I guess. But still.

Manasi said...

Ashutosh: Well I don't think it is convenient as merely changing the name officially requires a lot of paperwork, with the government, work, school, banks, passports and hundreds of other places. Most of the times you need to change your signature to match the new name which again means you need to inform people of the same where it matters. And if you are into academics publishing papers in your original name, you can imagine the hassle and the 'name building'. The only convenience for people who address you as a couple and have to use only one name.

Ashutosh said...

You are right. The drawbacks of the name-changing seem to outweigh the formal social benefits.